Tommy Gun logo

When grocery products start shooting up the local supermarket, who ya gunna call? Hugh Poynton.

I've heard loads of weird game concepts in my years - big blue blobs down-hill skiing, plumbers, dinosaurs and mushrooms go-karting round pink race tracks, spiky multicoloured hedgehogs running about eating stars. However, Tommy Gun, Mutation's second release, is basically nuttier than a Snickers bar.

That's not a criticism, Tommy Gun is brilliant. The concept is weird and original, the graphics excellent and the whole game is a breath of fresh air. It arrived in our office on one of those dull wintry Wednesday mornings when you wished you could've had just another half hour in bed and there's still quite a way to go until the weekend. I booted up the machine and within a minute I was playing with a big smirky smile on my face.

The aim of the game is simple: The bad guys (who range from vegetables to lobsters depending on the level) have taken over five zones and captured Tommy's buddies. Your job as Tommy the SWAT team Tomato (or side kick Big Cheese) is to last your way through, shooting the bad guys and blowing the padlocks of the little cages in which your mates are imprisoned.

The game reminds me in concept of Terminator, with the basic basically being a sideways scrolling shooting gallery.

The graphics are very good. The screens scroll past while the killer tomato side steps his way through the level. By directing the cross hairs with your joystick, the offending evil grocery items can be blown apart, and the zone liberated.

Tommy Gun's just saturated with really stupid but funny little touches. For instance the drive-by supermarket gerkins - mean gangsta-style gerkins who fly past you in a trolley with guns blazing, or the paratrooper carrots who shoot away while drifting down from the supermarket rafters. And this is just in one level.

Another priceless addition is the fact that when you do shoot the lock off one of your buddies' cages they jump out, throw you a power up or a bonus and shot 'Thank You' in a voice that sounds like an inebriated Smurf on helium.

However, despite being a genuinely enjoyable fun game, Tommy Gun does have a few detracting points, although they are admittedly minor criticisms. It might be fact that I haven't played it long enough but it is pretty difficult - even on the easy levels there are so many baddies that surviving to even half way is a mean feat.

Having said this the game is very addictive. You find yourself thinking, just one more game and I'll crack it - this balance between annoyingly frustrating and challenging is the secret of making an addictive game.

Although graphically it doesn't match up to Xtreme Racing or Worms the presentation is of a good standard, the concept is original and amusing and there is easily enough addictiveness and playability to keep you blasting away for a while.

Tommy Gun logo

Andy Smith usually shoots from the hip. This time it's from the lip.

Ten levels and this game would have scored slightly better. If the five levels that the game does have were longer, with more variety, it would score better too. But not by much.

Tommy Gun is a very simple game. Move your character (Tommy Gun) left or right, depending on which way the level scrolls, shooting at the various baddies that pop up and out from everywhere. Get to the end of the level and take on the end of level boss. Destroy him, get a passcode to the next level and you're off again.

And you can even get a mate to join in too - they'll have to play the Big Cheese character, but you can't have everything can you? Not that things change much when two players are going at it - there's no sudden increase in the number of baddies or anything.

You do seem to take hits more often though, which is the way things should be given that the challenge isn't increased anywhere else.

Free the tomatoes
Back to the in-game entertainment, though. As you'd expect, because this has all been done before, Tommy's machine gun runs out of ammo (not entirely but your machine gun fires single rounds) and Tommy himself takes hits.

The way to limit the damage is to shoot open the cages to the captured tomatoes (hey, I didn't come up with this!) who will then throw you a goodie such as a health kit, a grenade (acts like a smart bomb that destroys all baddies on the current screen), more ammo and the occasional shield.
Just don't get too reckless because you can kill the tomatoes if you shoot anywhere other than the lock.

Not much to it
There's nothing to this game. The levels are very short, the end of level bosses are easy to beat (except the very last one of course), the game does nothing that hasn't been done many, many times before and even the inclusion of the two-player mode does very little to lift it.

It's very well put together all right, it looks fine and the music and effects are just dandy, but for £15 we're not talking value for money. Even younger players are going to find that Tommy Gun quickly becomes dull and tedious. Like we say for games of this quality ...unlikely to impress your mates or your wallet. Avoid.

Tommy Gun logo

Price: £14.99 Publisher: Mutation Software 01705 672616

Fresh fruit and vegetables are normally good for aren't they? Not in this game, they're not.

Little Tommy Tucker, the mild mannered tomato is happily veging out in front of the TV when his tranquil world is rocked by one phone call. His mate, the Big Cheese phones him with some shocking and disturbing news: aliens have invaded and transformed their universe into one of mayhem. Tommy, enraged by this news, vows to rid the world of these pests and sets off to blow the troublemakers away.

The big cheese
And so the scene is set, your fate is in the hands of one brave tomato and his cheesy friend (who incidentally, only appears in two-player mode). Armed with your trusty rifle, in this scorlling shoot 'em up, you've got to blast your way through five different worlds, blowing away all the evil creatures that are trying to kill you.

To stop yourself from turning into tomato soup, position the cursor over your intended victim and keep firing. You've also got some bombs at your disposal for a little bit of extra backup. Just press shift and L to let rip. And remember to keep your ammunition and health levels topped up by freeing your friends, the little heatshaped creatures trapped in supermarket trolleys.

Another planet
There are four worlds, supermarket city, paradise island, fairground attractions, the sky fortress to get through before you reach space mountain where the aliens that caused all the trouble in the first place are.

Tommy Gun is linear so you've got to complete each world before moving onto the next. Luckily, there is a password system, so you don't have to go through any previously completed levels.

In a nutshell, for each world, there's the same recurring them: you scroll by lots of nasties and try to kill or be killed before you reach the final end of level boss. The only difference between each level is the sprites and the backdrops are different. For example in the supermarket level you've got things like crazy carrots and gung-ho gerkins to contend with against a scrolling backdrop of stocked shelves, fridge freezers and the like.

While in the fairground attractions set up, the carrots and backdrop are swopped for ghoulish clowns, crazy ghost trains and all manner of fairground sundries.

Too easy
It all sounds cutesy and fun so far doesn't it? Well, it is but Tommy Gun is just too easy. You can whizz through the whizz through the five worlds in one sitting. There isn't enough in the game though to make you want it to go back to it.

I found it incredibly easy to complete and when you do finish the game you receive a special cheat mode for infinite lives and ammunition which, to be honest, would make the game last about five minutes. The end of level bosses are laughable, who could take a huge clown or gian lemon firing ice-pops at your seriously? A few lobbed grenades finished them off within seconds.

I did get some enjoyment out of TG. However, it was too easy in some places and stupidly hard in others, so there was no way to plan and strategy. I also didn't like the lack of a difficulty curve, it really could have done with getting more and more difficult as you progressed through.

Also, in two-player mode, the scrolling nature of the game made it too restricted so you tend to get in each other's way. Not good.

Tommy Gun would probably suit younger players as it is quite cute. I find it bizarre that the game is dedicated to someone who died in a service. Maybe it's some kind of statement about the futility of war. If the levels were a bit harder and more varied then TG wouldn't be a bad little game as it stands it is too easy to last for more than couple of enjoyment.